POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

US Demands Free Rein In Iraq Long After Bush Leaves

With its international mandate in Iraq set to expire in 11 months, the Bush administration will insist that the government in Baghdad give the United States broad authority to conduct combat operations and guarantee civilian contractors immunity from Iraqi law, according to administration and military officials.

This emerging American negotiating position faces a potential buzz saw of opposition from Iraq, with its fragmented Parliament, weak central government and deep sensitivities about being seen as a dependent state, according to these officials.

At the same time, the administration faces opposition from Democrats at home, who warn that the agreements the White House seeks would bind the next president by locking in Mr. Bush's policies and a long-term military presence.

The American negotiating position for a formal military-to-military relationship, one that would replace the current United Nations mandate, is laid out in a draft proposal that was described by a range of White House, Pentagon, State Department and military officials on ground rules of anonymity. It also includes less-controversial demands that American troops be immune from Iraqi prosecution, and that they maintain the power to detain Iraqi prisoners.

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